Wednesday, September 1, 2010

McLuhan Describes, Fiore Executes

Quentin Fiore is a graphic designer, from the WWII generation, who worked mostly in book design. Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian academic who wrote that different media "massage" or condition our nervous systems differently. Media are environments, and each environment demands that we use our brains and bodies in ways that are specific to it.

I got The Medium Is the Massage in '67, and read it just to say I had. I recently dug it out of a box, and I am flabber-fucking-gasted! It's a beautiful paper-and-ink website between two cardboard covers, and it nails us and our time.

With writing, we trade understanding for precision (I'm doing it now). The text I'm about to quote is printed in white over a black film still (the reaper-led conga line from Bergman's Seventh Seal): "These are difficult times because we are witnessing a clash of cataclysmic proportions between two great technologies. We approach the new with the psychological conditioning and the sensory responses of the old. This clash naturally occurs in transitional periods. In late medieval art for instance, we saw the fear of the new print technology expressed in the theme of The Dance of Death. Today similar fears are expressed in the Theater of the Absurd. Both represent a common failure: the attempt to do a job demanded by the new environment with the tools of the old."

No comments: